Arjun Rampal: Did the show to create awareness about depression
Arjun Rampal talks about why he chose The Final Call over a period drama on Taj Mahal as his web debut
Bollywood's romance with the digital platform continues, with Arjun Rampal being the latest star to jump on the bandwagon. The actor opens up on his maiden web project and why it was a "draining" experience. Edited excerpts from the interview:
You were in talks for a web series on Taj Mahal. What made you choose The Final Call over it?
I was quite excited to do Taj Mahal, which would have seen me play Shah Jahan. But when I read the first two episodes, I wasn't convinced. Luckily, Tarun Katiyal [CEO, Zee5] and I were on the same page regarding the material. He then suggested that I read the script of The Final Call. I realised that it would be one of the most challenging characters I've played.
The show deals with depression, something that is not often discussed on screen.
One of the main reasons I did the show was to create awareness about the subject. Since it has dropped online, I have got several messages saying that we have depicted it with sensitivity. Depression is a mental condition that can occur due to various reasons, including stress. Sometimes a person harbours negative feelings because things aren't going his way. In some cases, it is a chemical imbalance; at other times, it could be bipolarism. So, it's important to recognise the issue and seek help accordingly. In our society, many feel that going to a psychiatrist is taboo, but it is necessary for a person to discuss his emotional state.
Was it tough to get into the psyche of a troubled pilot?
Understanding the mind of a character requires you to draw from different experiences. It was a draining process. Vijay Lalwani [director] read up about what happens to fighter pilots. He told me how most fighter pilots go into depression after retirement. It can be because of the missing adrenaline rush or simply, post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of them don't sleep with their family because they have nightmares and fear hurting them in their sleep. I tried to bring in this struggle in my character.
This is the first time that you have explored the OTT platform. What has been your understanding so far?
The digital platform is a completely different ball game. It is a great medium because it allows creative minds to showcase their work, which otherwise wouldn't have seen the light of day. While it has a wider reach, the competition is also stiff. That's why quality is paramount. We have to compete with the likes of House Of Cards and Game Of Thrones. We don't have the same budgets, but we cannot put out anything that looks shabby or cheap.
In the long run, do you think OTT will replace theatres?
Cinema isn't going anywhere; it is the mother of all formats. The OTT platform cannot replace it. It has surely raised the bar and made filmmakers conscious of showcasing good content, failing which the audience will not come to cinema halls. So, the way forward is to make larger-than-life films or provide interesting content.
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